Still Not Sweet on the Senator
Last month, The Post reported that American Crystal Sugar Co., a huge Minnesota beet refining cooperative, has rewarded pro-sugar lawmakers with nearly $1 million in campaign contributions this year.
The company has also punished one lawmaker, Sen. Norman Coleman (R-Minn.), who went against its wishes on a crucial trade vote in 2005, according to a recent article in The Hill newspaper. Coleman voted "yes" to the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which allowed a small increase in foreign sugar imports. Coleman had collected $15,000 from American Crystal from 2002 to 2004, but contributions halted abruptly after that.
Now Coleman, facing a tough reelection battle next year, is trying to work his way back into sugar's good graces by supporting a provision in the farm bill that would protect producers from an expected surge of Mexican imports. It would require the government to purchase excess sugar and sell it to the ethanol industry at cut-rate prices. Contributions to Coleman have begun to trickle in again from other sugar groups - but not American Crystal. The good news for Coleman is that his Democratic challengers, comedian Al Franken and trial lawyer Mike Ciresi, have received no sugar money to date, according to election records.
-- Dan Morgan
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